Karzai accepts dismissal of security ministers
KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai accepted on Sunday a vote by the country's parliament to dismiss his two top security ministers, but ordered both to remain in their jobs pending replacement, a move aimed at safeguarding fragile stability. The fractious parliament voted on Saturday to remove Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismillah Muhammadi after recent insurgent assassinations of senior officials, as well as cross-border fire incidents blamed on Pakistan, an inflammatory issue for many Afghans.
While the ministers remain in place for now, the uncertainty could complicate NATO plans to hand security responsibilities to Afghan forces before the end of 2014, as both positions are crucial to the 11-year war against insurgents as Western countries draw down their military presence. Karzai, who chaired a Sunday meeting of Afghanistan's National Security Council, issued a statement saying replacements of both ministers would be brought in according to the law. Karzai can keep both ministers in their jobs for months if he chooses, and as he previously has done after parliamentary votes to reject his choices.
Those moves may have alienated lawmakers whose cooperation he needs if he is to crack down on widespread corruption within his unpopular government in order to help guarantee up to $16 billion worth of aid promised by his Western backers.
Posted by: Steve White